Obviously desperate to prove that Jean Harris did not shoot her lover as he raised his hand in defense, the Harris defense team today brought in three pathologists, bringing the total number of pathologists who have testified for the defense to six.
They spoke about collagens, they testified of specimen stains, they went to a blackboard and drew elaborate diagrems of the skin. Most importantly, one after the other, they repeated the statement the defense wants the jury to believe -- no fragments of tissue from the hand were found in slides of tissue from Dr. Herman Tarnower's chest. This translates to: Jean Harris did not shoot Tarnnower through the hand and into the chest as he would have been raising his hand to ward off shots from Harris' revolver.
Former headmistress of the Madeira School in McLean, Va., Harris has been in court since October, charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of her lover, Tarnower, in the bedroom of his Harrison, N.Y., home. The prosecution, noting the doctor was shot four times, including once in the back, has called the shooting intentional; the defense insists the shooting was accidental. The doctor was shot in the hand, they contend, when trying to prevent Harris from shooting herself in the head. The remaining three shots have not yet been explained by the defense team.
Today, in an attempt to rebut testimony from a prosecution witness who said that tissue from the doctor's hand was found in his chest, they brought in new pathologists. One after the other, they testified at length on cells. But the one who was the clear courtroom favorite -- who in fact drew an enormous laugh -- was the last pathologist to take the stand; a gentleman with heavy eyebrows and a deep east European accent.
"I'm a pathologist," he began, "and I suppose you had some pathologists today and so I suppose you know what pathologists do for a living . . ." and the entire courtroom exploded in laughter.